In view of the development of technology and the massive entry of new enterprises, the accelerated commercialization of the space industry in general and the launch industry in particular, the establishment of infrastructure for space launches civilians is literally the requirement of the hour.
In Israel today there is no civil launch infrastructure but only military, while it can be set up with negligible investment by integrating the horizontal take-off and landing facility at the future airport international.
Since the future international airport will be built as a BOT – Build, Operate and Transfer undertaking, aspects of intercontinental transportation and satellite launches should be included in the design of a new airport and the tender documents. offers.
The horizontal take-off and landing facility will be used by space launch aircraft such as Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit. These systems can be used for small satellite launches and for microgravity and scientific experiments, but also for PTP point-to-point intercontinental transport.
Private Space Industry is a multi-billion dollar business that is expected to grow over the next few years. The value of the global space economy in 2020 was around $450 billion, as published by the Space Foundation. This could reach $805 billion within 10 years and $1 trillion within 20 years.
The need for a spaceport and its benefits for Israel
A spaceport will make it possible to operate commercial flights and obtain a greater share of the multi-billion revenue.
A spaceport will serve the country in the short and long term. First for space tourism and the launch of small satellites, scientific research, then with the development and market penetration of the next generation of new vehicles, as a take-off and landing facility for flights suborbital and intercontinental, since flights already exist around the corner. All of this will provide us with a next-generation transport hub.
Since the operation of underground flights requires technical support and service, maintenance and other spaceport-related capabilities will be created.
The spaceport should include a technology park for space-related companies, but not only. The existence of the port itself will help in the decision-making process of companies wishing to establish a manufacturing or R&D facility in Israel. This will stimulate technological development and create jobs.
Israel is one of the few countries in the world to be part of a prestigious club of countries capable of building, launching and operating satellites. The spaceport will strengthen Israel’s position as a leading nation in space.
Spaceports are rapidly being built in the United States and recently the United Kingdom announced its intention to have an operational spaceport by 2024. Other countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Japan and Canada are working actively to establish spaceports in their country.
Like the airports of the early 20th century, spaceports are also still unique and rare, on their way to spreading all over the world.
A spaceport will make Israel a very attractive location for Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa for spaceplane operators, as well as for related production and services. There could also be direct technological spinoffs, with a spaceport serving as a hub for high-tech companies. In the longer term, there would be opportunities in the supply chain for advanced manufacturing.
Even a negligible investment must be financed – the sources of financing can come from a balanced investment between the central government and the commercial companies interested in the development of the Spaceport. However, if the government wants Israel to become a hub for the space industry, it is likely that central funding will be needed or at least have a greater share of investment from commercial companies.
Site for vertical launches
In my opinion, the only suitable location in Israel for a vertical launch into non-polar orbit is the existing Palmachim launch site. Another potential site, suitable for south polar launches, subject to the results of the feasibility study, is the Shedma launch site, currently operated by Rafael.
The feasibility of establishing a civilian vertical launch site for polar orbits should consider quiet understandings with neighboring countries and taking into account the safety of the launch direction.
Another option is to place an offshore launch site, which due to the limited operational criteria for vertical launch to orbit can be located offshore on the platform, mobile like the Sea Launch Odyssey platform or stationary.
Other options include: launching from a ship such as the German Offshore Spaceport Alliance, or even using SpaceX’s STARSHIP.
Regardless of the proposed location of a spaceport, a feasibility study must be carried out which will include:
a) A report on existing and emerging technologies to define for which requirements need to be defined and what they need to include in a future international airport plan.
b) Estimation of the area to be included in the site master plan.
c) The study itself will include a review of the optimal locations in the country in general and the new airport in particular from a geographical, weather, safety, economic advantage and accessibility point of view.
d) Certification from the FAA, a United States Federal Aviation Authority, must be included for the new airport to allow Sierra Space Dream Chaser vehicles to land there.
Along with this effort, appropriate space legislation, regulating Israeli space activities, should be advanced and become law.
Under this law, the next step is to establish Space Israel – Authority to develop and operate Space Port.
At present, the CAAI and the Planning Administration have not selected the future location of the international airport. On the table are 2 options: Nevatim and Ramat David airbases.
On behalf of the Space Port Israel Association, white papers were submitted to the ISA and the Planning Administration’s Transportation Department.
The Planning Administration is waiting for the definitions from the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Transport is waiting for a request from the ISA.
Written by Alex Orlovsky, Israel Spaceport initiative